Proposed Bulls Trade Swaps Alex Caruso & Andre Drummond for Building Blocks

Alex Caruso Bulls-hornets

Getty Alex Caruso celebrates a made basket during a game between the Chicago Bulls and the Charlotte Hornets.

In spite of the headway made by the team since mid-December, the Chicago Bulls continue to rock a sub-.500 record for the season. And with Tuesday’s heartbreaking setback against the LA Clippers, they’ve lost three of their last four games as of this writing with a little over a week remaining until the NBA‘s February 9 trade deadline.

The recent downturn serves as a sobering reminder of the seismic gap that exists between the Bulls and the Eastern Conference’s upper crust. And with Lonzo Ball’s injury saga unlikely to end soon and the Zach LaVine/DeMar DeRozan star pairing being an imperfect one, the situation may not change much down the stretch.

With that being the case, one could make the argument — and many have — that it would be in the Bulls’ best interest to pivot toward some level of rebuild or retooling.

To that end, one longtime hoops scribe just pitched a trade swapping some of their vets for a pair of youngsters and some much-needed draft capital.

The Ringer: Bulls Could Swing Deadline Trade With Pelicans for Prospects & Picks

The Ringer‘s Michael Pina just put out a list of five teams that “need to make a trade before the deadline,” and the New Orleans Pelicans were one of the teams that were mentioned. Moreover, the deal that Pina floated for the Pels involved the Bulls. Here’s the trade that was proposed:

  • New Orleans Pelicans receive G Alex Caruso and C Andre Drummond
  • Chicago Bulls receive F/C Jaxson Hayes, PG Kira Lewis Jr., New Orleans’s top-four protected 2024 first-round pick and Chicago’s 2024 second-round pick 

For his part, Caruso has been namechecked as a potential deadline target for a number of teams, including the Golden State Warriors. The Bulls have set a high price for the lockdown ace, per league insider Marc Stein and others, but the haul proposed here may just qualify.

At just 22 years old with a mammoth wingspan of 7-foot-4, Hayes’ upside is enticing (even as he has struggled to develop and lock down a spot in NOLA). The former No. 8 pick’s minutes and overall numbers are down in 2022-23, but he put up 9.3 points, 4.5 rebounds and nearly a block per game last season.

Alas, the win-now Pels’ frontcourt is too crowded for a long-term project like Hayes to be using a roster spot. For a Bulls team hitting the reset button, though, he makes some sense.

Lewis, meanwhile, has barely gotten an opportunity over three years with the Pels. But he’s also a 22-or-under former lottery pick, and his 6-foot-7 wingspan should, in theory, help make up for his lack of size as a 6-foot-1 point guard.

Finally, the Bulls are light on draft assets as a result of the Nikola Vucevic trade two years ago; this move helps them restock to a degree.

Why the Pelicans Do the Deal

The Pels were the team that Pina focused on in this feature, and the analyst made it clear that the aforementioned trade has the potential to improve their postseason prospects.

In particular, Caruso could be a needle-mover for the club:

The Pelicans are already built to score in the playoffs. Point Zion is unstoppable — Caruso is a perfect inverted pick-and-roll partner — while Brandon Ingram and CJ McCollum are elite shotmakers who can read the floor. But upgrading the defense with someone who can create turnovers, communicate, guard multiple positions, and generally invigorate everyone around him is still necessary.

Caruso checks all those boxes. He can hit corner 3s. He can also thrive without ever touching the ball or taking shots better reserved for New Orleans’s stars.

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